Theodore's World: In Country With Our Troops

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September 03, 2007

In Country With Our Troops

....Thank you to SSgt Steve, USMC for this awesome graphic you see at the top of this post.


Smoke bellows from an 81mm mortar tube while Marines with Mobile Assault Platoon 3, Weapons Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, cover themselves for protection during a Fire Support Coordination Exercise here. Many Marines were new to forward scout observing and firing from a mortar tube. Photo by Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz.

Anatomy of TF 1/4's indirect firepower

By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz
2nd Marine Division


The ground shook ferociously as the 81 millimeter mortar round ripped through it, propelling debris everywhere and destroying any living thing in its area of impact. Forward observers up on a hill viewed this destructive force through their binoculars, ready to call in air support.

Weapons Company, Company C, and Headquarters and Support Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, proved their devastating capability of denying any offensive against Camp Al Qa’im during the Fire Support Coordination Exercise.

“It’s like the hand of God,” said Sgt. Randy L. Whitmore, a Reno, Nev., native, and forward observer field instructor with Headquarters and Support Company. “It reaches down from the heavens and brings death to the wicked.”
“Indirect fire is a combined team effort,” said Gunnery Sgt. J Boyle, an artillery operations chief with the battalion’s Mobile Assault Platoon 3, Weapons Company.

Unlike a rifle, considered an extension of a rifleman, indirect fire is a being combined of three parts.

“Forward observers are the eyes, fire-directional control is the brain, and the gun line is the brawn,” Boyle said.

As much as this mechanical life-taker destroys the enemy’s spirit and fighting force, it is also a savior to its allies.

“In battle, infantry units can use this long-range weapon to give them a bigger cushion, saving lives and keeping people out of harm’s way,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Walk, a fire-directional controller and Sierra Vista, Ariz., native, with MAP 3.

Marines who were new to calling-for-fire trained in the art of forward observation while communicating with fire-directional controllers near the gun line. The FO would use a compass to find the distance and direction for their chosen target, communicating this information to the FDC.

“This is these Marines’ first time calling for fire and they are making a good effort,” said Whitmore.

The FDC would input the direction and distance of the target into a specially designed notebook computer, which outputted data explaining air temperature, barometric pressure, air density and wind speed.

“All four of these affect the trajectory of the mortar,” Boyle said.

The computer can also find the accurate target location comparing the distance of the mortar’s location to the inputted information. This new system gives much more information to the FDC than the M16 plotting board, traditionally used by FDCs.

“You still want to check your grid with the M16 plotting board because the mortar ballistic computer is usually correct but it’s good to double-check your coordinates,” Walk said.

Mortarmen adjusted their M252 81mm mortar tubes to the FDC’s new coordinates. One Marine dropped the 81mm mortar round down the tube, crouching down below the explosive noise while another Marine simultaneously braced the bottom of the tube for a more accurate impact.

”I was really nervous the first time I dropped the mortar down the mortar tube,” said Lance Cpl. Blake Gorecki, a Minneapolis Native, and machine gunner with MAP 3. “My hands were sweating and my heart was racing.”

This long-armed creature, in theory, should work perfectly, hitting the target on precisely the same spot each time; but it is still effective even when it doesn’t hit the target, as long as it impacts near the enemy. The thunderous noise smashes easily through the sound of rifles cracking, reminding the enemy how fragile their bodies really are; if they are still alive after impact.


A ground-based missile interceptor is lifted from its transport to be placed into its missile silo during a recent emplacement at the Missile Defense Complex at Fort Greely, Alaska. Eighteen interceptors are emplaced in two fields on the 800-acre complex.


Marines train Iraqis to keep judges safe
It’s not news to read that politicians, famous athletes and even entertainers have bodyguards protecting them from dangerous people, but in Iraq, judges need protection from the same people they sentence.

This is why the Al Qa’im court system has a new personal security detachment trained by Marines of Viking Red Section, Mobile Assault Platoon, Regimental Combat Team 2.

“Part of setting up Iraq’s infrastructure is creating a normal working society,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Dustin Barlag, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native, and vehicle commander with MAP. “A normal working society protects its people by sentencing criminals in a court of law.
“As these judges are sentencing criminals, their lives get endangered more and more,” Barlag said. “If Iraq’s judicial system is to be fair, but stern, the judges need to feel safe from any reprisals. This is why there was a PSD created for the judges.”

The newly appointed PSD of Al Qa’im’s courts were eager to learn from the experienced Marines, who had been trained in personnel-protection techniques by a private security firm.

Posted by Wild Thing at September 3, 2007 12:55 AM


... I hear that your land based missile interceptor is turning on Rosie O'Donnell?
... + Hollywood +... ?

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at September 3, 2007 04:48 AM

Everything is Mobile today, 'Mobile Assault Platoon' which is great..,

and I mean to tell you we had a Motor pool in Vietnam too, but we walked everywhere we went 'cause both of them were broke.

Posted by: Mark at September 3, 2007 09:15 AM

Wonderful post WT. Mark reminded me of something, we'd be deadheading back after a delivery, see infantry hoofing it along and offer them a ride, they always refused, it's ironic, we didn't want to be slow moving targets and they didn't want to run over a mine in our mobile minesweepers. I have nothing but respect for them, they walked in some nasty territory. Then again, when we weren't on a mission we walked too. Nice picture of wonderful Ft. Greely, near Delta Junction. I wouldn't care to get stuck there, although it beats Clear AFB which is pretty isolated along the Parks Hiway North of Mt. McKinley.

Posted by: Jack at September 3, 2007 11:27 AM

I knew some some older guys who were so good with a 60mm mortar, they did not need a a base plate/tripod, plotting board or anything but Kentucky windage. They were whizes with machine guns and recoiless rifles also. Some of the sergeants were Korean War and even WWII vets. Vietnam was their second or third war.

Posted by: TomR at September 3, 2007 12:45 PM

Darth, hahahaha you are so funny. giggle

Posted by: Wild Thing at September 3, 2007 11:19 PM

Mark, Jack and Tom thank you so much for sharing it means a lot to me. i learn so much from all of you.

Posted by: Wild Thing at September 3, 2007 11:22 PM